Matthew Yglesias notes the environmental policy gap between Democratic and Republican presidential contenders: "On the Republican side, we have Mike Huckabee who thinks global warming is a serious problem but doesn’t have any particular ideas about dealing with it."

It strikes me as worse than that. When I read Andy Revkin’s run-down of the weekend’s debates, this made me want to get my shrill on:

Mike Huckabee called for a billion-dollar prize for the first 100-mile-per-gallon car (a concept that might seem a bit goofy, but that has been embraced by some influential economists).

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

It did indeed seem a bit goofy at first. Then I thought again. This idea goes well beyond goofy to … deeply unserious? Insulting? Inane? Consider:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

  • 100 mpg-equivalent cars already exist.
  • 100 mpg isn’t all that ambitious. A bunch of kids are planning to bring a commercially viable 200 MPGe car to market in 2009.
  • 100 mpg cars aren’t a hugely important policy goal.

So, let’s see: a climate change an energy independence plan consisting of a billion-dollar prize for technology that already exists will probably soon be supplanted, and isn’t a high priority.

Of course, this was just one throwaway line in a debate. But I’m thunderstruck by the level of policy discourse on one of the most important issues of the day. Then I remember that voters don’t actually care about this stuff, and it all sort of makes sense.